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Koeman talks title race, Ronald Araujo, Riqui Puig and Barcelona future

The latest from the Barcelona boss

FC Barcelona v Granada CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Ronald Koeman has been talking to reporters to discuss Barcelona’s next La Liga match on Tuesday away at Levante.

The Dutchman spoke about the title race, rotation, youngsters such as Ronald Araujo and Riqui Puig and his own future at the Camp Nou.

Here are the best bits:

Koeman on Levante

I think that the league is very level at the moment. It’s been difficult for us to finish well for various reasons, physically, the amount of games we’ve been playing. We will try to give it our all in these final matches.

Koeman on title hopes

After these two draws I think we’re in the same situation. It’s a little bit different because we have one game less. But I don’t think we should spend time thinking about others. We need to think about ourselves and winning our games.

Koeman on self-criticism after Atletico

There were two very different halves. I think it was hard for us to pressure them and they created more danger in the first half. In the second half we were better. We played against a very strong team, physically and defensively strong. They have a much more experienced team than us. We played with two 18-year-old midfielders and two 20-year-old defenders. We have to take everything into account, not just one result. We have won a title, we are fighting for another. I don’t think in the first half we were at our best. We went into the game too worried, and yes as coach that’s my responsibility and we have talked about it.

Koeman on possibility of Barca being kicked out of the UCL

I don’t know because I wasn’t involved in the Super League talks. I haven’t spoken with UEFA. I don’t know if they are able to, I don’t know about these punishments. Right now I’m not interested.

Koeman on if he can understand Real Madrid feeling hard done by

If there’s somone who shouldn’t talk about refs it’s me. If Real Madrid think they were hard done by then that’s their problem. The only thing I will say is that as the coach you don’t know when a handball is a handball. Even the referees seem to have doubts about whether it’s a penalty or not.

Koeman on if he needs to rotate

Yes I think so but that’s the case for all teams. There have been a lot of games and it takes a toll. This is true for all teams and without your fans it’s even harder, you don’t have their help during difficult moments. I think that’s why we’ve dropped more points at home. The team that is mentally and physically stronger will certainly win.

Koeman on Barca B players being needed for promotion play-off

The first team is always more important. I have not talked about this with anyone from the club. While we can still be league champions this will be the most important thing. If there comes a day that we can help the B team, we will help him as always.

Koeman on Ronald Araujo

Ronald was injured for a while. It was a bit hard for him to get back to his best physical shape but he is 100% committed and he played an excellent second half against Atletico. He needed a bit more time after his injury which is normal and I think he’s having an excellent season.

Koeman on if he watched Real Madrid vs Sevilla

I saw the first 20 minutes and then I watched Milan vs Juventus. I get very nervous watching our direct competitors so I prefer to relax and watch another game. I found out the result after it had finished.

Koeman on Araujo Part 2

I think we need to talk about Araujo but also players like Mingueza, Pedri, and Ilaix. At the beginning of the season nobody could imagine these four players playing so many matches. They have grabbed the opportunity I have given them and they are the future. Right now we are building a team for the future and we are playing with a lot more younger players than other teams. When you play with young players you miss maturity and experience but a whole season for these players is very important for many seasons to come.

Koeman on Pjanic and Riqui Puig’s lack of game time

I prefer not to implement too many changes, it also depends on the training sessions and the tactical decisions and formations. There are many things that influence the decisions of why some players play more and some less. But all players who aren’t playing much must be prepared for when they have to come in.

Koeman on if it would be unjust for him to lose his job

I will talk about this after the last game. I don’t think we need to dig up stuff that doesn’t exist. The president has told me he has confidence in me and he’ll be the one to decide. If after the season things change we can talk about it but right now I’m not worried about it at all. I have a contract for two seasons and I see myself here. If not then the president will tell me. We have a meeting scheduled for the end of the season, so right now we don’t need to talk.

Koeman on if he has a message to fans

That we still believe we can be champions and we will fight for that until the last second.

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